Women in tech: We are not afraid of ‘hard’ subjects because hard work means brainpower and discipline for creating something from nothing – Nastaran Bisheban, Vice President of Global Delivery at Rakuten Kobo


Nastaran Bisheban is Vice President of Global Delivery in the research and development team at Rakuten Kobo, one of the world’s most innovative eReading companies. Prior to joining Kobo, Nastaran has held various leadership positions in organizations including Siemens and BlackBerry, driving technology delivery and software development efficiency. Nastaran has also conducted research into cognitive science and neurotechnology, and has a B.Sc. in Computer Science plus a M.B.A. in Leadership with Honours and Distinction from the University of Liverpool.


Nastaran Bisheban

“…when you believe in what you do, never settle for “I will do my best”, instead do “whatever it takes” to go where you need to be…”

Tech translator

I did not grow up wanting to become an engineer, but I can’t fully express my happiness for choosing engineering school and discovering this magical industry. I have been blessed with many great teachers and mentors over the past 25 years and each one of them has helped shape my career.

My turning point was attending the Business School for my M.B.A., which gave me the ability to translate technical language (“Greek”) into business language. It is important to know how to translate technical terms into business terms, as technical people are normally considered “geeks” who cannot articulate their ideas in a way that business can understand.

As technology and science continue to merge with computer science, this skill is in demand as more and more businesses are looking for people experienced in this field. I’m noticing it is increasingly important to have the ability to translate technical points into business language and vice versa, to build the bridge between two separate worlds that might actually be saying the same thing and not having it get lost in translation.

Our mission at Kobo

At Kobo, we have one key mission, to provide the best reading experience for our customers. In order for us to do this I’m constantly looking for ways to improve by making sure our platform is always being refined. For example, we make sure we’re using the latest innovative technology to enhance the customers reading journey. Another aspect of my role is to help and support my team to be the best version of themselves – whether that is through training, development or mentoring.

KoboUltimately, Kobo prides itself as the eReading experts by empowering book lovers to read more! We do that by delivering the best digital reading experience with our range of award-winning eReaders and top-ranking apps, and offering one of the world’s largest catalogues with millions of titles to choose from. Most recently, we launched the Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2, a smaller, lighter travel-friendly version of the renowned Kobo Aura One.

Canadian tech scene

Our Canadian Government, technology industry and universities strongly support the spirit of entrepreneurship which has enabled the growth of technological hubs. These hubs are the incubators for many advanced ideas. Most of the large corporations and companies are investing heavily in technology advancements. From my perspective and experience, I can say with confidence that Canada is one of the key leaders in technology, and I predict that its share in technological innovation will only grow from this point on.

Why I support Canadian Women in Technology

Canadian Women in Technology helps women from their early years of college / university by providing a mentorship support system. Their goal is to raise awareness of what it takes to enter the technology industry and how rewarding it is to be part of the fastest-growing sector that supports every other industry.

Canadian Women in Technology supports initiatives to increase the number of technology jobs for women, the number of leadership roles for women in technology and advocates “equal pay for equal work” through enhancing the dialogue with decision-makers at corporations and not-for-profit organisations.

How to avoid putting girls off subjects like computer science that can be perceived as ‘hard’

No this is not my boyfriends computerEarly exposure and frequent showcases of computer science help girls to have a better understanding and give them the ability to form their own judgment without the influence of outside world. Social movements like #IAmAnEngineer and #IAmATechie have also proved very powerful in breaking the stereotype for younger girls. The message is “we are not afraid of ‘hard’ subjects”; “we welcome hard work because in this industry hard work means brainpower and discipline for creating something from nothing”.

That said, the ability to understand the basic concepts of computer science and use of algorithms in thinking and decision-making is a lifelong lesson that should be part of our primary education system.

The best piece of advice I have received as a woman in technology is when you believe in what you do, never settle for “I will do my best”, instead do “whatever it takes” to go where you need to be.

Coming up

Kobo has an amazing culture of embracing diversity. The next step is to leverage this so more people around the globe can experience the best reading experience possible.







No, this is not my boyfriend’s computer image credit: By Lady Pain (Marta Manso) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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